Sparkling white sands give way to the Pacific Ocean where the mountains meet the sea here at Carpinteria State Beach, which offers pretty much everything you could ask for in a beach camping adventure. Twelve miles south of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria camping is one of the best ways to take in all the beauty the California coast has to offer. Carve out a spot along the sun-soaked shoreline to warm your bones after a relaxing swim in what is known as California’s safest beach. Grab the paddle of your choice and commune with the dolphins, whales and seals that call these waters home, or take a leisurely stroll along the beach or along one of the dune trails. Stroll through tide pools while keeping your eyes peeled for starfish, crabs, snails, sea anemones, and sea urchins. And look out for seals, sea lions, and the occasional gray whale from December through May. Adventurers looking to catch their own dinner have ample opportunities for fishing and clamming. Those less interested in living off the land can venture on a short walk to town for a restaurant meal. Besides service animals, dogs aren’t allowed on Carpinteria State Beach, and they cannot be left unattended at your campsite, so most furry friends should be left at home. Truly a Southern California experience, get ready to beach it up on Carpinteria’s golden shores.
Take your pick from more than 200 campsites at four different campgrounds: Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Anacapa. Reservations are available between 2 days and seven months in advance. Cook dinner at your campsite’s fire ring and eat dinner at the nearby picnic table. Rinse the salt from your body at the end of a long beach day in the coin-operated showers located at each of the campgrounds. Water, sewer and electric hookups are available at Santa Rosa campground and half the sites in the San Miguel Loop, but the Anacapa and Santa Cruz loops do not have hookups. Carpinteria State Beach also has a hike or bike-in campground available for short stays of one or two nights.
If you’re on the hunt for beachfront real estate just south of Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Campground at Carpinteria State Beach is your stop! Santa...
With 25 campsites, Anacapa campground is the smallest of Carpinteria’s camping options. There are no beachfront sites, but it’s still an amazing...
Be sure to check the beach at low tide! Tidepools often form, bringing with them lots of cool critters.
For thousands of years, the Chumash Indians were the sole inhabitants of this beautiful sea-side valley. Theycalledthearea Mishopshnow, meaning “correspondence,” because it was a center of trade. Soapstone, used for carving effigies, bowls and beads, and wooden vessels, shells and asphaltum (usually referred to as tar) were supplied to nearby tribes in exchange for other goods. The Chumash used the naturally occurring surface tar to attach shell inlays to stone objects, seal water baskets, fasten arrow and spear points to shafts, and caulk their plank canoes (tomols), which were seaworthy enough to reach the Santa Barbara Channel Islands and Santa Catalina Island.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to have contact with the Chumash people, sighted the village of Mishopshnow in 1542. When explorer Gaspar de Portolá visited the region in 1769, and came upon a group of Chumash splitting driftwood and shaping the planks to form canoes, his expedition named the village La Carpinteria—the carpentry shop. As the Chumash were driven into the Spanish missions, the rapid spread of diseases, harsh treatment by some of the settlers, and the loss of traditional food sources had devastating effects on the Chumash people. Today the Chumash traditions are being rediscovered by many of their descendants.
Natural tar deposits seep to the surface on the coastal bluffs and on the sand at the southeast end of the beach, forming bulging, black mounds. Plant and animal fossils excavated from these tar pits in the late 1920s rival the remains found in Los Angeles’ well-known La Brea Tar Pits. Overtime,area residents have utilized the oozing black tar for a variety of purposes, including the first paved roads in Santa Barbara County. Remaining evidence of asphalt mining can be seen near Tar Pits Beach and the San Miguel Campground loop.
The white, sandy expanse of the Carpinteria shoreline was designated a state beach in 1933. It formally opened to the public on July 4, 1941, following the construction of campgrounds, picnic areas and parking lots by the Civilian Conservation Corps.